Recap / The Simpsons S 11 E 9 Grift Of The Magi

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A Christmas Episode in which Springfield Elementary blows its already-small budget on ramps to accommodate the wheelchair-bound Bart (who broke his coccyx while jumping on Homer's bed in drag), but the school ends up bankrupt and shut down after Bart is cured and after Principal Skinner discovers that the construction workers are mob-connected...and a toy company buys out the school and turns it into a focus group to create the next "must-have" Christmas gift.


Tropes:

  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Krusty wishes his audience "a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a 'Kwazy Kwanzaa,' a tip-top Tet, and a solemnly dignified Ramadan." Because Islam runs on a lunar calendar, it is possible for Ramadan to coincide with the other December holidays, and it actually did in 1999 when this episode aired.
  • As Himself: Gary Coleman as a security guard.
  • Christmas Carolers: Bart and Lisa do this in order to battle an evil corporation. Kid First Industries releases a new toy, Funzo, that is programmed to destroy all other toys kids get for Christmas. Lisa and Bart go from door to door singing carols as a way of distracting the families while Homer steals the toys (dressed as Santa Claus, of course).
  • Confusing Multiple Negatives: Bart's stance on Springfield Elementary after Kid First Industries bought it?
    Bart: Alls I know is I'm gettin' straight A's, and that ain't not bad.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Gary Coleman. He called up a Chinese food place to complain about his "Galaxy of Prawns" order... despite the phone not being plugged in. He then "gets" a call from the President.
  • Epic Fail/Blatant Lies: Moe suggests to quell the money woes of the school that they sell liquor and says he's doing great by it, yet he wears Wonder bread bags for shoes.
  • Exact Words: The Kids First Industries representative defends his company's actions by pointing out that all the profits for Funzo will be going to children. "We're all somebody's children" after all.
    • False Reassurance: When Principal Skinner told the students they no longer had to worry about The Mafia threatening them for money, it was because they already have it (and the school ends up bankrupt as a result).
  • Funny Background Event: While Bart and Lisa go caroling at various homes, Homer dressed as Santa goes into their homes to steal the Funzos, but run into trouble when the Hibberts' dog attacks him.
  • Hero of Another Story: Mr. Burns and Moe both had their own offscreen adventures, going through Yet Another Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Plot respectively.
  • Ignored Expert: Flanders comes up with a great idea about selling the old motorhome of his he doesn't use to help pay to keep Springfield Elementary open, which Homer shoots down immediately. Even Marge and Skinner agree about this, calling it a terrible idea.
  • Ironing: Bart points this out in regards to Lisa having to write "I will not do math in class." on the chalkboard after class.
    Lisa: The word is "Irony".
    Bart: Huh?
  • It Makes Sense in Context: One such summary of the episode, which appears in a tie-in episode guide book:
    "Bart gets injured playing dress-up and is temporarily wheelchaired."
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: When Lisa leads Chief Wiggum to the broom closet where she found the Kid First surveillance room and prototype Funzo, she discovers that it has been converted back into an ordinary broom closet. Lisa continues to insist the room was there, but Wiggum sarcastically replies, "And I'm Ed Sullivan." He then does a good impression of him (after a false start, that is).
  • Noodle Incident: As explained by Homer, who is trying to determine the number of past Christmases:
    "Let's see, this will be three Christmases I saved, versus eight I ruined...two were kind of a draw..."
  • No Sympathy: What's Skinner's reaction to seeing Bart falling to the ground after trying to get into the school on a wheelchair? Scold him for fooling around.
    • However, it's implied he was unaware that Bart was actually crippled.
  • Opening Shout-Out: When Lisa is caught doing math while brainstorming a name for a toy, we see her Writing Lines in a shot very similar to the opening sequence, complete with the camera panning in through a window. Compare the real opening with the imitation.
  • Shout-Out: Mr. Burns decided to donate money to save Springfield Elementary School after receiving a visit from three spirits of Christmas and Moe gave up his suicide attempt after an angel showed him what the world would be like if he never existed. Both events happened offscreen and were just mentioned by a narrator. The title is named after The Gift of the Magi, but does not include any elements from the story (or grifting, for that matter).
    • The burning Funzo rising out of the tire fire parodies The Terminator.
  • Special Guest: Tim Robbins as Jim Hope, Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony and Clarence Clemons as the narrator.
  • Swapped Roles: Lisa's punishment for doing math in class? Bart's usual punishment: writing on the chalkboard. Bart himself arrives to comment on the ironing.
  • Take That!: When Gary Coleman catches Homer, Bart, and Lisa destroying the Funzo toys.
    "Well, well, well. If it isn't the biggest rip-off since Webster."
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Gary Coleman after being conned and mocked throughout the episode ends up spending Christmas with the Simpson family.
  • Villain Has a Point: Kid First Industries actually had the right idea in getting kids to design a toy. What better way to know what the consumer wants than asking them directly? However, their method of doing so, taking over a school and substituting a proper education and tricking the kids into doing the work, was wrong.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The two executives from Kid First Industries just disappear after the third act.
  • Worst Aid: Why does Dr. Hibbert use the defibrillator on Bart's ass? "It's good for the batteries."

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